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Barcelona’s Rising Tourist Tax


Barcelona, a city renowned for its vibrant culture, stunning architecture, and Mediterranean charm, has become one of Europe’s most visited destinations. However, with its popularity comes the challenge of managing overtourism. In response, Barcelona has implemented one of the fastest-rising tourist taxes in Europe, designed to regulate visitor numbers and generate funds for city infrastructure.

Since 2012, Barcelona has added an extra fee on top of the region-wide tourist tax, targeting official tourist accommodations. This surcharge has seen periodic increases to address the growing influx of tourists. In 2022, city authorities announced a phased increase in the city tax over the next two years. By April this year, the city tax rose from €2.75 to €3.25 per night. The city council has recently approved another increase to €4 per person, effective from October 2024.

Visitors to Barcelona must pay both the regional tourist tax and the city tax. The regional tax varies depending on the type of accommodation:

  • Four-star hotels: €1.70 per night
  • Rental accommodations (like Airbnb): €2.25 per night
  • Five-star and luxury hotels: €3.50 per night
  • Cruise passengers: €3 if spending less than 12 hours in the city, €2 if spending more than 12 hours

The city tax, which applies for a maximum of seven nights, is currently set at €3.25 per night for most visitors. For those staying in tourist apartments or cruise passengers staying less than 12 hours, the tax is €4 per night.

Starting October 2024, the city tax will increase to €4 per night. This means that:

  • Guests in five-star accommodations will pay a total of €7.50 per night (€4 city tax + €3.50 regional tax), amounting to €52.50 per person for a week’s stay, up from the current €47.25.
  • Visitors in other types of accommodations will also see a similar increase in their nightly charges.

The goal behind these increments is to promote “quality” tourism, reduce the strain of mass tourism, and cover expenses like cleaning and security.

Barcelona attracts approximately 32 million visitors annually, many of whom arrive via cruise ships. The increased tourist tax is part of a broader strategy to attract higher-spending tourists rather than large numbers of budget travelers. According to city authorities, this approach aims to enhance the quality of life for residents and maintain the city’s infrastructure.

In 2022, Barcelona introduced new measures to mitigate the disruption caused by guided tours, including noise restrictions and one-way systems. The recent tax hike is expected to boost the city’s income from tourism from €95 million to €115 million in 2024. Deputy Mayor Jaume Collboni highlighted that the focus is on increasing tourist income rather than tourist numbers, shifting towards a model of quality tourism that adds value to the city.

The revenue generated from the tourist tax is split between Barcelona’s Generalitat and the City Council. It will be used to fund essential city infrastructure projects, including improvements to roads, bus services, and escalators. These enhancements aim to make the city more navigable and enjoyable for both residents and visitors.

Barcelona is not alone in implementing a tourist tax. The Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, Formentera) also charge a nightly fee of €1-4 for each holidaymaker aged 16 and above. This Sustainable Tourism Tax supports better tourism practices and environmental conservation. Valencia had planned to introduce a similar tax but scrapped the idea following the 2023 elections.

As Barcelona continues to grapple with the effects of overtourism, the rising tourist tax is a strategic measure to balance visitor numbers with the city’s capacity to accommodate them sustainably. Visitors planning a trip to this iconic city should be prepared for the updated charges and understand that their contributions are aimed at preserving Barcelona’s charm and livability for future generations.


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